My mini server gaming experiment (HD3000)

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by CausticPuppy, Jul 17, 2012.

  1. CausticPuppy macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2012
    First things first, I did NOT buy my mac mini for gaming.

    I have a windows 7 tower for that, with a decently fast GPU, although I'm trying to wean myself from it as much as possible since it requires physically moving a bunch of cables to hook back up.

    Really I just needed a Portal 2 fix, since a lot of custom maps are coming out for it. Since I already own the Windows version, I could install the Mac version for free from Steam. Nothing to lose, so why not try it?

    Based on all I've read on the net I was expecting gaming to be a disaster, but Portal 2 actually ran surprisingly well. Even at 1920x1200 (my monitor's native resolution) it was smooth, with all other video settings at default.

    Only two caveats:

    1) It runs much smoother with vsync off, albeit with some tearing. Since Portal isn't fast paced it's not bothersome

    2) Shader detail is set to low, but aside from the gun not being shiny, it doesn't make a difference in gameplay

    Likewise, I'd expect any other game based on the older Half Life 2 engine to run just as well. Having the faster CPU probably makes up for a lot.

    It's good enough that I'm not inclined to go through the hassle of hooking my windows box back up just for Portal 2. Maybe I'll even try Half Life episodes 1+2 since they're on sale now.

    BTW the fan does definitely kick in, turning the mini into a white noise generator, but my windows tower (with 4 case fans, CPU fan, GPU fan, and PSU fan) was far noisier.

    So the moral of the story is an HD3000 should be fine for many older games. I have a kid now so my hardcore gaming days are over-- until she's old enough to play too!
  2. eyepee macrumors newbie

    Jul 13, 2012

    I have a MM Server 2011, OCZ Agility 3 240GB 8GB Ram and have said many times that the MM Server is great but because of the HD3000 it would be no good for gaming. But it looks like it can handle some load in the gaming area.

    I note you have 8GB Ram so your HD3000 is utilising 512MB on the GPU instead of 350MB (or something like that) when you have 4GB Ram so that may be the difference. That is, the HD3000 draws its memory from the physical RAM. More RAM, more GPU memory, but it does max out at 512MB for the GPU memory so 16GB will not improve the GPU memory from 512.

    Go the MM Server!

  3. CausticPuppy, Jul 18, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2012

    CausticPuppy thread starter macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2012
    The HD3000 isn't good for current games-- in general. But that really depends on the game, and of course each person's willingness to turn down detail levels and leave FSAA off.

    Fortunately, Half Life 2 came out in 2006, and so pretty much any game that uses a 6-year-old graphics engine will run just fine on an HD3000.

    I haven't done much PC gaming in the last few years, so Half Life episodes 1/2 will be completely new to me, and it's nice to know I can just play them on my mini rather than hook my dinosaur windows tower back up.

    BTW, after about 90 minutes of playing, my Mini was barely warm to the touch.
  4. andychelt macrumors member

    Oct 7, 2011
    Don't know about you but I was playing HL2 back in 2004! :p
  5. CausticPuppy thread starter macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2012
    Ah, you're right. It was Episode 1 that came out in 2006. In my head it seemed like episode 1 only came out a couple years ago.... but HL2 is 8 years old, and the sequel is 6 years old, which makes me older than I thought.

    I don't know of any game or game engine that has aged as well as Source. :eek:
  6. mopatops macrumors regular


    Jul 21, 2011
    I'm running a 2011 MacBook Air and can also run Portal 2 as well as you described. 1.7 dual-core with 4GB RAM.

    Haven't tried any of the HL's yet but I'm sure they'll run just as well. :D

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